Why I support the Resistencia

October 14, 2009

I guess you could call this a reveal, or a coming out. I’ve carefully and deliberately kept this blog apolitical for what I considered to be very good reasons, but those reasons don’t seem to be making much sense any longer, and I don’t want to keep quiet about it anymore.

On June 28, when Zelaya was removed from office and flown out of the country I has only been back in Honduras for a couple of weeks.  I was out of touch with the political climate and atmosphere in the country, and felt I didn’t know enough about Honduran politics to have an educated opinion.  In addition I was here primarily to do research and didn’t want to risk compromising that.  However over the past 3 months I have watched, listened and discussed the events unfolding and my initial neutrality has given way to open support for the resistencia.   Here’s why.

  • I don’t trust MichelettiWhile there has been ample discussion of Zelaya’s sins in the traditional media here in Honduras, and in online media, I have been surprised at how little  talk there has been regarding Micheletti and others in the defacto government.  Without even having to look into the past, or at the accusations of death squads and violent repression, it is easy to see actions that are far from ethical. The manner of Zelaya’s illegal removal from the country (even coup supporters will admit that now), the faked resignation letter, the forced closure of pro-Zelaya media outlets, the overkill of a nation-wide 48 hour curfew… none of this is the behavior of an honest and responsible democratic government.  With accusations of disappearing money and the selling off of grain reserves, one has to wonder what is actually happening behind the scenes.
  • The constitutionMaybe it is because I come from a country without a codified constitution, or maybe it is just because I am not a political or legal scholar, but the constitutional arguments don’t convince me.  The Honduran constitution has been bent backwards and forwards by both sides to try and support their position, and as a result it is perhaps no wonder Oscar Arias called the Honduran constitution the worst in the world.  While that might be an overstatement, from what I can tell the constitution appears to have hindered, rather than helped the democratic process.  A constitution that has articles that simply cannot be altered, and that make it difficult or even impossible for the people to instigate change, is at best a dinosaur, and at worst repressive of future generations.  Additionally, while the argument for Zelaya’s removal rests on the importance of upholding the constitution, it wasn’t a problem for the Micheletti government to suspend constitutional civil rights it on Zelaya’s return, indeed it seems to be becoming a major problem for them to reinstate them.
  • Misinformation, disinformationControl of the media seems to be one of the key strategies of Michelitti’s government. Certainly here within Honduras it is difficult to find any traditional media outlets not endlessly repeating the governments line and pro-Zelaya outlets have been shut down for inciting rebellion and uprising.  However I find it hard to believe that this was done in the public’s interest, as in several days of watching Canal 57 (Cholusat) near continuously my husband and I did not once hear Zelaya call for violence, although he did call his supporters to Tegucigalpa for peaceful protest.  We also did hear many callers describing the violent and repressive actions of the police and military in their neighbourhoods.  Characterising pro-Zelaya media outlets as inciters of violence allowed the regime to shut them down, and to shut down any reports that were not favorable to their regime. Again, this is not the actions of a democratic and enlightened government.I am also comfortably certain that the pro-coup media’s characterisation of Zelaya supporters as violent thugs, paid mercenaries or ignorant and uneducated is not correct.  While my academic background leads me to be highly suspicious of anecdotal evidence (and yes this post is full of it), this characterisation has not been my experience or observation. The resistence includes people from all walks of life. The Zelaya supporters I’ve met include grandmothers, small business owners and farmers. While I don’t deny there has been violence I don’t believe there is a simple “they are bad” explanation. For example in mid-July my husband had an interesting conversation with  a young street kid in Tegucigalpa who had no political interest (or knowledge) but who had joined the pro-Zelaya marches with his friends and thrown stones at the police for the fun of it.   More recently, on 21 Sept when Zelaya returned to Honduras, I spent the day watching TV footage of peaceful, happy Zelaya supporters outside the Brazilian Embassy, later I was saddened to watch scenes of chaos in that same street as the police and army moved in.  The violence is not necessarily endorsed, nor perpetrated by Zelaya or the resistance.

    Another example of misinformation from the media and many pro-coup commentators is that most of Honduras is supportive of Micheletti and the new government.  Again at risk of being accused of using anecdotal evidence, I have to say the majority of Hondurans my husband and I have spoken to are either pro-Zelaya or are ambivalent.  More convincingly, last week poll results from the authorized polling agency for the Honduran elections were released, which showed only 17.4% were in favor of the June 28 ousting of Zelaya, and 52.7% against. Interestingly I don’t think this poll was reported in the newpapers here.

  • The root of the crisis is fearSocialist, communist, dictator… there was , and is, a strong fear that Zelaya was going to usher in an era of Chavez-style politics to Honduras.  I am less interested in whether or not he was going to do that (and I’m not convinced he would have been able to anyway) than I am in the underlying fear of the left that drove Micheletti and co to desperate measures.  This fear is reflected throughout the pro-coup media and blogosphere, and I have been very frustrated over the past months reading posts and articles endlessly misusing the terms socialist and communist, and misunderstanding left wing politics and the rise of the left in Latin America. The United States has done very well promoting a right-wing, market-oriented form of development, and at vilifying all other approaches.  To read some of the pro-coup postings on the web is to step back to the cold war and to feel the fear of communism, ironically a communism that Zelaya was far far away from implementing. Talking to the poor, raising the minimum wage, convening a national constituent assembly… this is not communism, nor even socialism.  But it was enough for the elites and business community to feel threatened.
  • This is no changeFollowing on from the above – this was a clearly a coup to protect the status quo, not for change.  The coup leaders have vested interest in maintaining Honduras the way it was.  Michelettistas don’t like the term oligarchy, and would love to contest the idea that Honduras is run by just 10 families, but they can’t deny that the coup leaders are largely from the social class that had the most to loose from a change to the left. The coup was a means of retaining, rather than taking power. I don’t believe they were thinking of the good of the country, or of the poor when they took the actions they did, but rather of saving their position and power, and their businesses. The coup does not represent a fresh start for Honduras, but the ability for Honduras to continue with business as usual.  It means business as usual for the poor, selling candy on the street, picking someone else’s coffee, buying just a few tortillas with a little salt to feed their children.

So this is why I support the resistencia. Not because I think Zelaya is wonderful.  He’s not.  Not because I think Micheletti is evil, although I am very worried about what he is up to.  Because I want to align myself with the poor, with those that don’t have a voice, with those that will loose whoever wins the political battle.  I support the resistencia because I see this as an opening to begin a conversation about a Honduras that works for all, about what real change would mean.  Not a change controlled by the elite for their own benefit, but one where all Hondurans get a voice.

If you want to read more about the Honduran crisis (in English), I can recommend the following thoughtful and insightful blogs:

Honduras Coup 2009 – “Responses to the Coup d’etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.”

Quotha – Anthropologist Adrienne Pine posts online field notes and first-hand accounts of the coup from Hondurans.

Hermano Juancito

Carne con Frijol

El  Cinquito

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One Response to “Why I support the Resistencia”


  1. […] was manipulated in many ways in the months following the coup. Eventually, with some trepidation, I came out as resistencia. My reasons for doing so still stand, and another nine months of reading and research have only […]


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